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Keeping the rivalry familiar

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyThe Vail brothers J.P., left, and Mike Testwuide will square off this weekend as their rival hockey teams take to the ice at Colorado College's World Arena Friday and Denver University's Magnus Arena on Saturday.
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If you only know one thing about college hockey in Colorado, know this much: When it comes to the Gold Pan matchup, you have to pick a team.

That is unless you happen to be Vail’s Janet and Paul Testwuide.

For this weekend’s pair of games between rivals Colorado College and Denver University, Paul and Janet likely will be the only people cheering for both sides. They have a pretty good excuse, though, as their sons, J.P. and Mike, will be squaring off on opposite sides of the ice once again.

Janet, who knows just about every player on both teams, should at least have a prediction for who will come out on top today in Colorado Springs and Saturday in Denver, right?

“I do, but I’m not talking,” Janet said earlier this week. “Well, last year, Colorado College won three out of four games, and the other was a tie. It would only be fair for Denver University to come up with it ” that’s spoken as a true mom.”

While there is always a ton of pride at stake ” the Gold Pan goes to the winner of the four-game season series ” there happens to be a bit more on the line this year.

Mike, a sophomore forward for the Tigers (ranked No. 4), is hoping that his team can continue its sizzling streak against the No. 3 Pioneers, where brother J.P. is a junior defenseman and an assistant captain.

“Both teams are two of the hottest in the nation right now, and it’s really exciting,” Mike said.

Even with all the hype, this meeting between brothers may be a bit less stressful than last year when, for the first time in an organized game, the Testwuide brothers played against each other.

“It was pretty nerve-racking,” J.P. said. “Mike was a freshman coming in, and I was a forward at the time and kind of new to my position. It was definitely intense and a lot of fun. This year, he’s playing forward, and I’m playing defense ” we’ll be going at it together.”

If they are charging for a puck in the corner, the brothers won’t let up one bit, but the vitriol that the teams may display for each other on the ice doesn’t carry over between Mike and J.P.

“They’ve never been the type of brothers who have fought or even bickered,” Janet said. “They are each other’s best friends.”

For half of the summer, the Testwuide brothers trained together in Wisconsin.

“It helps your training so much. When one of us is feeling tired on a certain day, we’ll say, ‘There is no way we’re taking it off,'” Mike said. “(J.P.) is an animal in the gym, and I learn so much from him there.”

The brothers, who are two years apart, grew up playing hockey in Vail and then played together at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y., as well as on a junior team in Waterloo, Iowa.

When they were away from home, it was difficult for Janet and Mike to watch their sons play, although Paul moved to Waterloo for a year to live with both of his sons. Now, with J.P. and Mike only two and three hours away, Janet and Paul make the most of every chance to see their kids. But much like in their cheering, the visits must be as close to equal as possible.

“It’s pretty comical because my parents try to split everything down the middle,” J.P. said.

Janet even has a sweatshirt spit right down the middle, one half with J.P.’s number and team colors and the other with Mike’s number and team colors.

The decision of where to go on Friday and Saturday during the season is easy.

“If they are both in town, we split the series ” one night at Colorado College and one in Denver,” Janet said. “That’s usually one weekend a month, maybe two. If one is home, we’ll go to that game for weekend. Sometimes they are both gone, and we have a bye weekend.”

While J.P. and Mike rarely get to see each other play, there’s no missing out on what happened.

“I’ll call Mike up to see how he played,” J.P. said. “It works to our advantage ” we can talk about the game and see how the other teams played. We’re usually playing the (opponent) a couple weeks later, or they played us a few weeks ago.”

Mike also can go online and check out J.P.’s blog on the NCAA’s Web site.

“I read it quite a bit ” it’s interesting,” Mike said. “I didn’t know he could write that well.”

There are many instances of brothers playing college hockey on the same team, but it’s rare to find brothers playing for rival schools in their home state. Part of it, though, was just the luck of the draw.

“If they had been recruited by the same team, they would have been there,” Janet said. “(The teams’) needs were different at that time. One needed a defenseman and one needed an offensive forward.”

Mike’s and J.P.’s teammates are well aware of the situation and make sure to remind them with a joke or two.

“There are comments the whole year,” J.P. said. “If I’m going to Colorado College to see Mike, they’ll say, ‘You’re having breakfast with the enemy.”

“I go up there and see J.P. quite a bit,” Mike said. “My teammates ask, ‘Are you going to hang out with DU guys?'”

After this weekend, the teams will meet again in early March to close out the regular season. But with the way things are playing out, they very well may meet again in the playoffs in familiar confines. The Tigers will host the NCAA West Regionals at World Arena, while the Pioneers will host the Frozen Four at the Pepsi Center.

“What will be really interesting is if they would both make it to playoffs or the national championship game,” Janet said “That could be very interesting. I don’t know what you do, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

This weekend is enough for Janet to think about for now.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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